Midweek Madness

The Bridge review

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As I write this I have only actually played about 25 minutes of the game. I had to stop because oh my goodness my head is now spinning. What caused this cranial conundrum? Read on to find out…

204240_screenshots_2014-08-29_00001I picked up The Bridge because it was 69p on Steam’s midweek madness. Last time I got a game for that price I was extremely pleasantly surprised (see Tiny and Big review). Published by Quantum Astrophysicists Guild and developed by Ty Taylor and Mario Castañeda, The Bridge is pretty much everything you would expect from an indie title – innovative art style with thought provoking gameplay. You play as an unnamed inventor-type fella who awakens from a nap after an apple falls on his head à la Isaac Newton style. From the level hub that is his house, you navigate your way through a series of puzzles to…well, I’m not sure why because I stopped playing…

204240_screenshots_2014-08-29_00010The reason I stopped was because after completing the first of the four chapters my head was screaming at me to lay down. See, The Bridge utilises a physics engine, and the primary gameplay has you rotating each of the levels to manipulate gravity in your favour. It’s a cool concept, and allows you to traverse the M. C. Escher style designs by moving giant balls or swinging chains in your favour. But, for my poor little head, this trippyness proved too much, and I had to stop. I was enjoying myself though, so I will definitely scuttle on back later after digesting a few more litres of water. For you, dearest read o’ mine, it may be different, and your head may survive the disorientating gameplay. I hope so.

204240_screenshots_2014-08-29_00005The game’s art style is completely hard drawn, and compliments the gameplay. Each level begins with your character being sketched into the puzzle, and that (along with the ability to rotate the levels at will) gives the player the feeling of an omnipotent being. Perhaps that will become more apparent in the game’s story as it progresses? Get all meta ‘n shit.

204240_screenshots_2014-08-29_00007The accompanying soundtrack is nice too. It isn’t too distracting, but jut apparent enough to create an almost ominous atmosphere throughout the game (that, and the looming threat of a ball-like foe named the Menace…he is the thing of nightmares).

204240_screenshots_2014-08-29_00003It’s clear that The Bridge has taken inspiration from other successful indie games, notably Fez, Super Meat Boy and Braid. Coincidentally the three games featured in the must-see Indie Game: The Movie. That’s probably irrelevant. The level design is somewhat similar to that of Fez in the manipulation of space. The Super Meat Boy inspiration comes from the kind of cool idea that you can see everywhere you have died. And finally the game is very reminiscent of Braid in its drawing stlye and the fact that you can essentially rewind time if you die. These are not criticism in any way – if something works, why not utilise it? I’m just making an observation – if you enjoyed those games, you will probably like The Bridge.

204240_screenshots_2014-08-29_00009There isn’t really much more to say about The Bridge. It’s current full price is £6.99, and whilst I will probably attempt to continue playing at some point, and although it’s pretty pretty and quite innovative, I think that the overall experience will become a little tedious eventually. I may be wrong. I hope I’m wrong. But we’ll see. A lot of indie games do now seem to just implement a unique art style and call it a day (I’m currently playing through a game called Secrets of Rætikon that seems to be doing pretty much that…review will come soon).

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Tiny and Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers Review

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This game popped upon Steam’s midweek madness for 69p, so I thought YOLO and bought it. Oh my goodness I’m so glad I did. This is by far the best 69p I have ever spent.

Tiny and Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers has you playing as the character Tiny – a Tim Burton-looking technophile with a squeaky voice – as he tracks down his nemesis (and possibly brother?), Big, who has stolen his grandpa’s heritage: a lovely pair of underpants. Accompanied by his trusty grappling rope, laser cutter and rocket launcher, and friendly talking Radio, Tiny sets off into the desert to foil Big’s plans, whatever they may be, and get back Grandpa’s underpants.

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The story throughout this three hour campaign is pretty funny, witty and very enjoyable. It’s not convoluted or complex – it just does exactly as it says on the tin. It’s silly, charming and wonderfully presented. Aesthetically, the game looks like something from a cartoon, with a very cool hand drawn and cell shaded look, mixed in with the aforementioned Burton-esque character design. The environment is beautiful and immersive, and despite the fact that only two characters (three including the Radio) really exist, the world feels weirdly populated and not at all desolate.

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The best part by far of Tiny and Big is the gameplay. Or, rather, the physics engine. As I mentioned, you are armed with three tools – the laser cutter, which is used to slice up giant rocks and structures; the grappling hook, used to pull things; and the rocket launcher, used to…well, launch things. With them, the world is your oyster! Using a sandbox environment, the game allows you to make your way from point A to point B with no real right answer – how you do it is up to you. I had too much fun cutting up massive statues, watching them collapse, then attaching a rocket to the rubble and sending it flying into space. It’s just very satisfying, if that’s what you’re in to. The physics engine is brilliant in that near enough every object in the environment is responsive – that is to say, you could cut up a large rock into five pieces, one of which falls and hits into a statue, causing it to collapse and unexpectedly smush you. True story. It was hilarious. It’s a game that rewards exploration and initiative thinking, with over fifteen individual songs to collect throughout the game by various lesser-known artists, which means you can be a total hipster about knowing them.

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There isn’t really too much more to say. The game is short but sweet, but personally I would love to see more from developer Black Pants Game Studio! It’s currently 69p on Steam, reduced from £6.99, which is still worth it to be honest as the game is littered with achievements, adding mucho replay value. My screenshots don’t really do it justice as it’s hard to hit F12 at the exact moment of awesomeness, so go on: spend 69p. I mean, what’s that…like…a Mars Bar? You don’t need any more of them, fatty.

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